African Americans and Healthcare Dynamics

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African Americans and Healthcare Dynamics




Healthcare has always been a fundamental pillar for any country’s wellbeing. It affects the economic, as well as social aspects of society. In fact, it has always been recognized as a fundamental determinant of the economic wellbeing of any country especially considering that only healthy individuals have the capacity to create wealth for the nation. This should explain why a large number of governments have had to use a sizeable amount of their finances in safeguarding the health of the nation. However, as much as the health of the nation may be determined by the financial investment of the government the social aspect plays a key role in the same. This is especially with regard to the decisions that individuals make. It goes without saying that there exists some disparities in the health status of individuals of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, gender, religion and even ages. This difference may be explained by the influence that these aspects have on numerous other factors that affect the health of the individual, or even his or her perspective towards healthcare as a whole. This is the case for Mr. Levy, an 83 year old African American living in South Carolina.

How race and gender affect the socioeconomic status of Mr. Levy

Race and gender have always been recognized as having an enormous effect on the social economic status of an individual. It is worth noting that the social economic status is usually measured as a combination of income, occupation and education.  More often than not, it is conceptualized in terms of the class or social standing of a person or group of individuals, with the emphasis being placed on control, power and privilege in instances where it is viewed via the social class perspective. Social economic status has been recognized as incredibly relevant to every realm of social and behavioral science (Brown et al, 2008). While there are numerous elements that affect the social economic status of an individual, race and gender comes as one of the most crucial. Research shows that the social economic status of an individual is intimately intertwined to his social economic status (Brown et al, 2008). The stratification aspect of ethnicity and race often has a bearing on the socioeconomic status of an individual especially considering that segregation often occurred within the lines of ethnicity, race and even gender (Brown et al, 2008).

In Mr. Levy’s case, his being an African American means that there is a distinctive characteristic that he is likely to exhibit as far as his social economic status is concerned. For example, research shows that children have three times likelihood of living in poverty than their Caucasian counterparts.

In addition, his race is bound to influence his educational status. While the educational sector has undergone fundamental changes, enormous gaps exist especially when comparing the educational attainment of minority groups to that of Caucasians. A study done in 2006 showed that Latinos and African Americans had a higher likelihood of attending high-poverty schools compared to Caucasians and Asian Americans (Wang et al, 2006). On the same note, their dropout rate was rated the highest in relation to that of Alaska Natives or American Indians. These factors deprive students of African American descent of valuable resources. On the same note, the research showed that high-achieving African American students have a high likelihood of undergoing a less rigorous curriculum, have instructors who do not expect much from them in terms of academics, as well as go to schools that have relatively few resources than their Caucasian counterparts (Wang et al, 2006). Needless to say, this has a bearing on the quality of life that they live as education status has been found to determine this. For example, research shows that race or ethnicity and socioeconomic status are related to avoidable hospitalization, untreated ailments and avoidable procedures (Brown et al, 2008). This explains why African Americans stand a higher possibility of undergoing an involuntary psychiatric commitment compared to any other race.

What are cultural beliefs/practices related to aging? How might they affect the person in your scenario?

African Americans have peculiar beliefs pertaining to aging. They believe that aging well is composed of a strong spiritual life, social activities, travelling and desisting from taking medications. In addition, they believe that aging well involved being independent, cognitively intact, as well as free of serious health problems and mobility impairment (Wang et al, 2006). It is worth noting that they did not associate nutrition with aging well, which is one of the similarities between whites and African Americans.

These beliefs have a bearing on their health. For example, their distrust for medication means that health strategies that involve taking medications would be unlikely to be effective unless they are closely monitored (Mayer et al, 2005). On the same note, their unwillingness to be dependent on anybody means that they would be unwilling to seek assistance in time. Deterioration of health is increased by their lack of interest in exercises and physical activities (Mayer et al, 2005). However, they would do well in nursing homes or homes for the elderly as they value family and social bonds.

Effect of socioeconomic status on health behaviors and decisions

As noted earlier, the socioeconomic status of an individual determines the decisions that he or she makes pertaining to his health. As noted, their education standards may not be as high as that of other races such as Caucasians. The systems through which they go do not have an appropriate curriculum or sufficient resources, not to mention the fact that their dropout rates are extremely high (Mayer et al, 2005). In this case, their capacity to make rational decisions based on facts rather than cultural beliefs is bound to be low. This explains why Mr. Levy would rather skip medication to save money, whereas rationality demands that he caters for his health first. On the same note, their low educational status affects their income (another aspect of socioeconomic status), which affects their capacity to get quality healthcare. Mr. Levy’s decision to skip medication, so as to save some money, may be predicated by some other needs that he considers as more pressing than safeguarding his health. It is worth noting that the family receives meals and financial assistance from well-wishers in the community, as well as the local community center, in which case they are not at the top as far as the financial ladder is concerned.

Leading causes of death for older persons among African Americans and the role of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status

African Americans have disproportionate rates of key health problems that are associated with high mortality and morbidity. One of the key causes of death among African Americans is heart disease. These are mainly high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis (Pathman et al, 2006). Research shows that two United States residents get a heart attack every minute with one of them succumbing to it. Studies show that African American men have the highest hypertension rates compared to any group.

In addition, cancer comes as one of the key causes of death among African Americans. Women usually suffer from breast cancer, while their men take on colon and prostate cancer than their counterparts in any other race.

On the same note, African Americans succumb to diabetes more than any other race (Mayer et al, 2005). This is especially the case for African American women. It is worth noting that the key risk factor for the condition is diabetes, in which case it is not wonder then that African American women have the highest rates as research shows that about 60% of them are overweight and obese (Pathman et al, 2006).

Their ethnicity has had a bearing on their educational standards and socioeconomic status and, consequently, their decisions pertaining to health. It is worth noting that about 50 percent of the chronic diseases that have high mortality rates among African Americans mainly result from dietary factors (Mayer et al, 2005). As noted earlier, they do not hold physical activity in high este.............

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